Thursday, March 31, 2005
Friday Blog
DLM Plan
Yesterday, I came upon a discussion forum bashing the DLM plan. A litany of why it doesnt work was being rattled of one-by-one - "How can you do repeat solving the same set of exercises over and over again?", "Well I want to have a life too" and my personnal favorite "Tactics is not everything". I found it all to very funny. One would think I would get insulted since as one who implements the plan, I am also idirectly being bashed, but its kinda cute in a way. Particularly this comment:

"one's chess playing ability is defined more by one's deficiencies than by one's strengths"

I think the knights can see the irony here. All of us slogging away, religously doing problems everyday, because we "blindly" believe that tactics is the key to fame and fortune. And all the while there are all those posts describing in painful detail why the plan doesnt work. Sentences after eloquent sentences. Such wity comments. Some of these people can be salesmen I think. But all these long and tall words, [whispers] Are they trying to compensate for something? [/whispers] Hehe! sorry, coudnt resist saying that.

There was a particular type of chess books that I was tying to collect. I wanted to be the first person to have all those "art of xxx" books:
  • The art of the checkmate
  • The art of attack
  • The art of positional play
  • The art of chess combination (Znosko-Borovsky)
  • The art of chess combination (Blokh)
  • The art of chess defense
  • The art of chess defence
  • The art of analysis
    In that way, I could say that "please signor, I am no ordinary chess player. Such vulgar words. I prefer to be called a chess artiste (spreads hand and turn sideways to show the art of xxx books)". But now, my current obssession are CD's. Its all I can do to stop my hand from typing my credit card numbers in convekta's website. Sometimes I think the evil hand is tying to bankrupt me.

    I think I am going to set a deadline afterall. I have been doing this exercise thing for three months now, and I am a little bit weary of it. In fact, starting the blog was a way of combating the tiredness of doing problems everyday. But to have no fixed end-date in sight is hard. If this was a real project, it would be overbudget and extremely late. And so I am setting 5 months as my deadline. That is to say, I am going to solve the problems for two more months and whatever I happened to cover within that span, that would be it. In software project terms, the deadline is not feature dependent but time dependent. Only in this way can I continue this for another two months. Which is why, I really coudnt fault all those forum bashing the DLM plan. It really is hard. The commitment that it entails is enormous. It really has a big impact on the personnal and professional lives of the undertaker. Which is why I liked it in the first place. For "That which we get too easily, we esteem too lightly. Heaven knows how to set its price".

    But after 5 months, what am I gonna do then? Study chess of course, just not tactics as I want to allow my brain to refresh my "creative" batteries. Here it is, my grand patzer study plan.

    One-year study plan
    Jan-May: 7 Circles (Current)
    May-Jul: Endgames / White opening repertoire creation
    Aug-Oct: Strategy / Black opening Repertoire Creation
    Nov-Dec: Mini 7 Circles (Continuation of problems unsolved)

    But bear in mind that during the time that I will not be doing the seven circles (May-Oct), I still plan on solving about 600 problems. Just not in this concentrated way. Maybe about 2-3 times a week would be best I think. After that time, I hope that my hunger for tactical training comes back and I could do the second 7-circles with energy (It want to have tempo's vision too)

    Status Report
    I am gonna finish the circle 2 review today, and move on to the next chapter. I've already spent too much time on this chapter for me to do circle 3 on it right now

    Have a nice weekend everybody!
    posted by Nezha at 8:41 PM | Permalink | 11 comments
    Wednesday, March 30, 2005
    Four Games
    I did not do any exercises last night. I had been doing them for so long that I was itching to unleash what I have learned on some unsuspecting patzers. So I went and challenged the neighbors. Recounted here are the sordid details of the whole affair

    Game 1: I had black, and surprise2x. My opponent played d4. So I whipped out my KID. Of course I dont know nothing about this opening, but what the heck. I won because my opponent took too long to castle. I pushed the central break e5, and after the e-files were opened, he was as good as dead.

    Now the impression I got from playing the KID is that this opening feels different".
    I can't quite explain it, but the game felt heavier and sluggish to me. Or is it the
    novelty of it being played for the first time?

    Game 2: I had white. I let my opponent choose the color. Predictably he chose black. What is it with weakies and the black pieces? Does it feel more manly when playing with black? This time we played the ruy lopez. I dont know what variation we played,but again I won because my opponent took too long to castle. You know, this is a particularly effective technique that I learned sometime ago. If I had castled, and my opponent have not - I immediately look for ways of opening up the E and D-files. Even at the cost of material. Because after the rooks have centralized, death becomes those files (Just open the e-file, sac-sac-mate.)

    I am beginning to dislike the ruy. It takes too long for the game to open up. Lots of manuevers are needed. My pieces are hampered by the pawn chains.

    Game 3: I had black: This was a draw. I was up a rook, but then I saw a particularly
    pretty rook+knight mate and decided to sacrifice material to achieve it. Only to find out that there was no mate after all. Serves me right for being too cocky.

    Game 4: I had white again. Because my opponent chose black again. Will they never learn? This game followed the script of game 2. Again a ruy lopex, again my opponent failed to castled on time. That and my amazing tactical prowess grounded him to dust. Hehe! Hey I just won 3.5/4, I'm on top of the world! I'm on top of the world! Whoohoo!

    Ok at this point, I have made my decision. I think I'll drop the ruy as an opening
    repertoire. Its too slow and positional for me. So now, I have to think again what my opening repertoire will be.

    Maybe I may have to bite the bullet and play the kings gambit. But eversince I saw some games of morphy playing against it, I have had doubts. Maybe I'll try the scotch? Arrgh! I can't decide. For the black pieces its easy, I'll try the sicilian dragon. The king-side pawn struture is the same as with the KID so since they look somewhat the same, I could save some time.

    But I am now faced with a crisis. I think I have outgrown my previous sparring partners.Time to seek out better competition I think. But where? The monthly tournments are too far apart to give regular practice. I also dislike playing against the computer. Its either too weak or too strong. And playing in the internet does not produce the same adrenaline as OTB games. Darn!
    posted by Nezha at 9:20 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
    Tuesday, March 29, 2005
    Just Nothing
    About CTART
    I used to attend japanese lessons. And one of the harder things to study about this language is its alphabet system. A minimum of about 2000 basic chinese characters have to be memorized to be able to at least read a newspaper. And so to make it easier, the teacher wrote the chinese characters on index cards and displayed it to us everyday. After weeks of this, I thought that I have already memorized the characters. Until I have had to write it, and only then did I find that I dont remember it too well at all. Not until I took the painful work of writing those character down 10x everyday for one year did I really remember them. Seeing it
    in flashcards wasnt enough. The physical component of actually writing it down etched the patterns in my memory deeper than any amount of visual stimulus did.

    And why am I telling this here? whats the point? The point is that while CT-ART has its problems, I think that using it is much superior to what I had been doing. I think the physical act of moving the pieces, albiet only in the computer, etches the patterns deeper than only looking at the problems in our head. It is unfortunate that I am already at circle two of chapter 10 when I remembered that lesson from my japanese class. Otherwise I would have ordered the CTArt though I already have the book.

    I am intrigue with this guy. Ok stop, not with the girlfriend ok. Wanna just make that clear. No, I am not being defensive. Ok, Ok!? Anyway, I have played thru some of Shirov's game so I am at least familiar with his play. But everywhere I look, people says that moro is weirder than all the other grandmasters. That he loves risky and complicated games. Sounds like my kind of guy. You see I am looking for another GM apart from Nezh that I can pattern my play after. Maybe one of the knights can give feedback? Maybe one of these days I'll download a PGN of his games and try to study her.. err.. the PGN I mean. Not the girlfriend ok, the PGN. Hehe!
    posted by Nezha at 8:48 PM | Permalink | 4 comments
    Monday, March 28, 2005
    Circle 2 Complete; Circle 2 Review
    Circle two is complete. I am now reviewing the exercises that I've missed. I am trying to see why the combination works as it does. I hope to finish this review this week.

    Which brings me to why soving them had been very hard. The moves of a usual combination are forcing. It is very much predictable what the opponents response is. But the deeper you get into a combination, the larger the choice of opponents response, And the harder it is to predict them. To give a simple example, lets say we have a 4-move combination the first two of which is forced. But on the third move, the opponent have three possible replies. If we unfortunately pick the false move, we could end up analyzing deeper and deeper and see no solution. This happens very commonly. I would analyze a line and look up to see my 10min has passed. Of course after seeing the solution, we may say "Ah, its so simple" but when solving it, it is not so.

    Some of the knights have opening repertoire already. I do not have one, and I am sorely tempted to have it also. And since Botvinnik said that it is advisable to stick to three opening system, I am thinking of adopting these lines

    White Side
    1. e4 - Ruy lopez - I've already tried to map this once before, so it would be wasteful to drop all those analysis. This is also a mainline opening with lots of theory so if I ever wanted to buy references I wont have problems. And most importantly, nezh plays this line so if its good enough for him, its good enough for me
    Black Side
    2. Againts e4 - Ruy lopez - The goal is to master both sides of this opening
    3. Against d4 - Kings Indian - Analyzing the games of nezhmetdinov, and seeing his KID after KID slaughtering the opponents had made a believer out of me.

    What no gambits? We'll contrary to expectations, I am not a gambit type of player. My play is overly wild and excessive as it is and using gambits maybe courting disaster a little too much. More importantly, Nezh does not use gambits. And so if its not good enough for him, its not good enough for me =>
    But I may not start a remotely serious study of these soon. I have to finish the circles first. Mostly, I think I will get a general idea about them by continuing to play thru Nezhmetdinovs games. I play thru his games everyday and try to understand the attacking ideas contained therein. In this way, I hope to synthesize my newfound tactical ability with the principles of correct attacking play.
    posted by Nezha at 10:44 PM | Permalink | 4 comments
    Sunday, March 27, 2005
    Circle 2 Almost Complete
    Hello everybody, Had a nice vacation. I did circle two of the annihilation of pawn strukture chapter. I only got six more problems to go before finishing it. But.. I may have to go back and redo some of the problems. It is my second time, and still some problems seems beyond me. I would stare at it and stare at it and stare at it, and not get the solution. I have encountered the same problem as some of the knights. Some of the solutions did not seem forcing enough. But it should be easier now because I was supposed to have memorized them by now. But that just isnt the case.

    I also found something. I was thinking of buying the theory and practice of endgame by convekta. But I was playing around with chessmaster10 the other day, and lo and behold. I found an endgame course by josh waitzkin. I mean, I saw it already before of course, but not actually played thru it. But now, when I was watching the games, I realized that this might be as good a training module for basic endgames as there is. Concepts like queen vs pawns, two pieces versus rooks, rook vs rooks.. etc.. lots of essential endgame stuff. I want to setup the positions and play against my favorite programs. Only when I win against best play will I be able to say that I get it. But when I tried playing one of the positions against the computer, I got creamed. I will probably take a lot of time before I finish that course. So, I'll probably just finish that first before I try to buy any other endgame CD.

    I also played two OTB games yesterday. In both cases I won because of traps. But with the best defense I should have lost. I am quite dissatisfied with my play. Here are some of the cracks in my game:

    1. Only looking 3 plies ahead - This is not deep enough. But to think that I would just suddenly start looking ahead 10ply deep every move is wishful thinking. So I am going to set the modest goal of looking 4ply ahead every move. This is also not deep enough true, but easy does it. If can do this, I'll target seven (7) plies ahead next.

    2. Tendency to not inspect non-threathening moves by my opponent -
    I inspect threatening moves of course, but if my opponent makes an innocent pawn push here, or a quiet knight maneuver there, I tend to shrug it off and immediately go look for my own forcing maneuvers. But, sometimes a quiet move can have the deadliest effects.

    These two are my greatest concern right now. I have other weaknesses of course, like opening, endgame, srategy, positional play, etc.. You name it, I got it. But these things can be overcome by book study. Those two above can only be overcome by effort and discipline.

    Another thing I noticed:

    I used to try and play positionaly. I would close lines and try to stick a knight somewhere. But lately, this have been missing from my game. Open lines and forcing manuevers have become the norm. Not to mention traps. I have not forgotten the positional ideas I've studied. But, when I look at a board, I do not see anymore outposts, the seventh rank, etc. What I see are diagonals, files, pins and forks. We trully are what we study. I bet that if I had studied endgames, I would have found ways to immediately swap pieces. Perhaps there is a way to merge my previous positional play with tactics?
    posted by Nezha at 7:20 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
    Tuesday, March 22, 2005
    Lessons From the Great Uncle (2)
    Hmm, trying to discuss the previous game seemed to solidify my thoughts regarding some of the lessons on attacking play that I learned from Uncle Nezhu. So now, I am gonna do it again. This game can be viewed here

    The funny thing about this game, is that it has the same players and the opening played is the same as in the last game. And well, I'll let the game explain itself

    [White "Lilienthal A"]
    [Black "Nezhmetdinov R"]
    [Result "0-1"]
    [ECO "E67/08"]

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7
    5.g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.O-O O-O 8.b3 exd4
    9.Nxd4 Nc5 10.b4 Ne6 11.Nb3 Nd7 12.Bb2 Ne5
    13.Na5 Nd4 14.a3 c5 15.Na4 Bg4 16.Bxd4 cxd4
    17.Bxb7 h5 18.Bg2 h4 19.h3 Be6 20.Rc1 Rc8
    21.Nb2 hxg3 22.fxg3 Bh6 23.Rc2 Be3+ 24.Kh2 Ng4+
    25.Kh1 Kg7 26.Qe1 Rh8 27.Nd1 Rxh3+ 28.Bxh3 Qh8
    29.Kg2 Qxh3+ 30.Kxh3 Rh8+ 31.Kg2 Rh2+ 32.Kf3 Ne5+
    33.Ke4 f5 34.Rxf5 gxf5 0-1

    Here are my general impressions

    Move 1- 17
    Standard Opening to Middlegame moves. Again, both the players developed normally. No attacks, no nothing. Just normal moves. Things almost seems sedate. I must really remember to pace my games like this.

    Now, it is very interesting that up to now, this game is proceeding exactly the same way that the last game did. Maybe GM Lilienthal found an important novelty?

    Move 18: Bg2 h4
    We saw again an important technique that Mr. Nezh constantly employs in his games. The patented "Please win my rook" maneauver. This is the way to create tactics against strong opponents who never blunders. You have to offer them something they can't refuse. Delicious things like a rook and some pawns. Only in this way can the necessary chaos be created against such strong opposition.

    Of course, after what happened the last time, GM Lilienthal declined. But it seems to me that the bishop manuever was inconsistent. Why take a pawn now? White won a pawn true, but at what cost. For the price of the pawn, important tempos was gained for an assault on the H-File.

    It may seem to be negligible at this stage of the game, but a whole lot of white's trouble was the direct result of taking this little thing.

    Must remember to put this in my bag of tricks, this "poisoned" pawn. Previously,losing a single one caused me grief. But this game had shown me that a small pawn sacrifice can pay enourmous dividends.

    Move 20 Rc1
    Did black really threatened to win the c4 pawn here? I think white should have let this pawn go and try to bring the knights to the kingside.

    Move 23 Rc2 Be3+
    It is amazing. Everything seems so natural. The dark bishop now finds a powerful post. It even seemed like white helped him by putting that rook on c1, thereby enabling the bishop to come here wihtout lost of tempo.(Not that I think black would take it anyway) Holding on to the c4 pawn caused this. Again, the pawns. They have had enourmous influence in the game so far.

    Move 24..Ng4+
    A knight sacrifice. If white takes this, the defense of the kingside becomes very difficult. The two bishops are bearing down hard. The queen is just a jump away. And then there is that open H-file. That very same file which was opened for black's b-pawn by the way. The poison is now being felt.

    Of course compared to what really happened, maybe white should have taken it anyway.

    Move 27.Nd1 Rxh3+
    Three moves ahead, and we find that white wants to dislodge that dark-squared bishop. But it is already too late. All the preparations for a combination was finished. All those tempo gained by black, for the black b-pawn and the white c-pawn ultimately had fatal consequences.

    Now, before we proceed, it can be noted that Nezhmetdinov again prepared his combinations by posting his pieces near the white king-side and opening lines
    and diagonals. The assault is very concentrated. He did not get sidetracked by trying to win material here, or checking there. Things that a weekie like me would have done.

    This patience in preparation despite great pressure is one of the hallmarks of great attackers I think. Everything was mobilized, every possible lines are opened. Then, and only then was the combination carried out.

    Now, everything that follows is forced

    Move 34.Rxf5 gxf5 0-1

    Checkmate. Poor GM Lilienthal. Like in the last game, mate was achived from pieces coming from the H-File. What irony. He hadnt found an important novelty after all.

    Now, The following quote was a description of Nezhmetdinovs play. Lets see if its true:

    Well, color won't matter. Nezhmetdinov can play any opening. Somewhere he will sacrifice a pawn for the initiative (The b-pawn). Then he will sacrifice another. Then he will sacrifice a piece for an attack(The knight). The he'll probably sacrifice another piece to drive your king in the center (The queen,and the rook). Then he will checkmate you. (Yes the king was in the very center. The e4 square to be precise)

    We'll, thats all I've got to say now. I hope I remember all the things I said here. Otherwise, I am such a big fool.

    I am going on a weeklong vacation and so I may not be able to post. But I plan on doing the exercises till my eyes bleed. In fact, I am gagging on the exercises right now. Doing it everyday is like eating fried chicken all the time. Its supposed to be delicious, but boy! I've been wanting to throw up. Can't wait to finish this circles so I can go and eat another food.
    posted by Nezha at 2:48 AM | Permalink | 2 comments
    Monday, March 21, 2005
    Lessons From The Great Uncle
    Here is a light annotation of one of Nezhmetdinovs game. And some of the lessons that I learned from it. First the complete game score:

    [White "Lilienthal A"]
    [Black "Nezhmetdinov R"]
    [Result "0-1"]
    [ECO "E67/08"]

    1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 e5 4.Nf3 Nbd7
    5.g3 g6 6.Bg2 Bg7 7.O-O O-O 8.b3 exd4
    9.Nxd4 Nc5 10.b4 Ne6 11.Nb3 Nd7 12.Bb2 Ne5
    13.Na5 Nd4 14.a3 c5 15.Na4 Bg4 16.Bxd4 cxd4
    17.h3 Be6 18.c5 b5 19.cxb6 axb6 20.Bxa8 Qxa8
    21.Nxb6 Qa6 22.Na4 d3 23.exd3 Bxh3 24.Rc1 Qa8
    25.f3 Ng4 26.Nc4 Bd4+ 27.Kh1 Qd5 28.Rc2 Bxf1 0-1

    Now the lessons learned

    Moves 1-18:
    The first 18moves are normal development moves. Nezhmetdinov is an attacking genius true, But he does not attack from the first move like a bat from hell. Things like proper development of pieces into good squares are not neglected in his games. This displays that he knows positional concepts too. And this serves as a reminder to me that I should seek to develop first instead of looking to attack from move one.

    Move 18.. b5 -
    The bait. The a8 rook is offered as bait. This is something that is common in his games. Nezh will frequently allow the opponent to "win" material such as rooks and pawns. Here if white takes it, black will obtain tremendous pressure against white's position

    Move 20.. Qxa8 -
    The light bishop is gone. Whites kingside suddenly becomes vulnerable. The effects of this will be felt until the end of the game. We should not hesitate to offer material for positional advantage such as this.

    Move 21..Qa6 -
    Why move the queen here? This is to enable the next move without losing tempo (The white knight must move)

    Move 22..d3
    This was made without lost of tempo. But what is this move? Another pawn sacrifice? At first I didnt understand the significance of this move. Why sacrifice a pawn here? It didnt make any sense.. but, this is a very important move as can be seen later.

    Move 23..Bxh3 -
    The attack starts. White will be subjected to great pressure from now on. All of this the direct result of "winning" the a8 rook. Notice that after this, nezh will not take the c1 rook. This is a very important lesson in attacking chess - Try not to win material on open games. The initiative must be preserved for as long as possible. Decline offers of material as long as necesary.

    Move 26..Bd4+ -
    Now we see the point of blacks 22nd move. The pawn sacrifice was a vacating sacrifice designed to open lines for the bishop. When I realized this, my jaws dropped. The preparations he did was amazing. It shows clearly that this is no wild attacker. This is now move 26, and the effects of move 22 is only now being understood.

    Must remember to look for these types of moves in my game. Pawns are irrelevant here, only open lines matters. Open lines that was prepared beforehand. So kids do your homework first before attempting to storm the barricades.

    Move 27..Qd5 -
    The quiet move. For all intents and purposes, the situation has reached the climax.The queen is now centralized, the number of possible square it could go rises exponentially.

    Now, at this point, there is very great tension in the game, but notice that Mr. Nezh have not been making exceedingly violent moves like a check here or a capture there. Its like he is increasing the pressure move by move. Can you feel it? All the pieces are slowly converging into the vicinity of the squares where the white king resides. You just know what its target is, but the pieces seems to flow so slowly. I am reminded of a crocodile slowly approaching a deer crossing the river. The intent is deadly, but without undue haste. There is great patience here. If there was a way to demonstrate "hurry up and wait" this would be it.

    Move 28..Bxf1 -
    The goal of this is not to win material but rather this is another vacating move. (These vacation theme is a frequent guest in Mr. Nezh's games.) Now mate on the H file by the queen is unavoidable. And this shows too why the 27th move was very powerful. The mating net was woven very smoothly. Did you notice that from the start of the attack on move 23, only one(1) check was done. If that isnt smooth, I dont know what is.

    There, thats some of the lessons I've learned from playing over his games. I have been trying to incorporate them into my own play. But I keep forgetting them. And so I am sharing this now to force myself to remember (I tend to remember things I try to discuss). And of course if there are refutations to my understanding, I hope one of the knights (Or one of the friends like logis) can point it out too =>
    posted by Nezha at 2:10 AM | Permalink | 1 comments
    Sunday, March 20, 2005
    Side Effects
    This tactical exercises, coupled with playing over nezh's games had an effect on me. My play has become overly risky and wild. I thought that since I am supposed to be tactically more proficient than my opponent, I should be able to overpower by combinations. This mind-set caused me to over-reach, the result of which is a nifty -3 defeat last night. *sigh*.

    But its good that I learned something from those defeats at least: I think I am learning a lot about combinations and how to set them up. I know, I know, I am doing all of this tactical exercises - they should teach me all I know. But, they are no substitute for actually looking and setting up your own combinations in a game setting. The memorized tactical exercises assists us what to look for and such, but not until that knight was sacrificed for an attack, will somebody trully understand how it feels. Tons of book have been written about the role of the initiative and time in such cirscumtances, but until youve gone thru it, I think true understanding of them cannot evolve. I mean, I dont know why this should be so, maybe because of adrenaline? but I find that when I was the one doing the sacrifice, the critical squares seems to popup. The ranks and diagonals to be opened cries out for attention. My mind seems to grasp things clearer. I dont feel this way from solving exercies. Not even the most beautiful ones. Maybe this is like learning how to ride a bike. The books tells you how to pedal, how to manuever, etc. etc. But until you rode that bike yourself and just did it, you really wont understand.

    So this is my excuse for all those defeats. Nice one to have, too isnt it? =>
    But seriously, I really want to lern how to be a sacrificial player. And so I try to continue. Though I lose a ton of games, and even if I hate losing (aurgh!) I want to be able to ride my bike, even if it means having big red wounds in the knees.
    (Although winning every now and then seems nice =<)

    status -
    I only got about 50 problems or so before I complete circle 2 of the annihilation of pawn struktures. This circle is so much fun now that I know the answers. Full of sacrifices on the focal points f7, g6, h7 squares. Maybe I'll do this over 5 times
    instead of three. Afterall, Like GM Tal, those are becoming my favorite squares too.
    posted by Nezha at 8:15 PM | Permalink | 0 comments
    Saturday, March 19, 2005
    Quick Post
    I finished circle 1 of the anihhilation of pawn strukture chapter. For a while there I thought I woudnt be able to. Starting circle 2 now.
    posted by Nezha at 4:09 AM | Permalink | 0 comments
    Thursday, March 17, 2005
    The Key to Tactics Success
    CelticDeath posted that the key to tactical sucess lies within these three:
    visualization, calculation, and pattern recognition - You need to master all three to become a tactical whiz. I agree with him, and since I have nothing better to do, Let me expound on my thinking regarding the matter.

    "The tripod is the most unstable of all devices". This dictum is true. Weaken one leg and the whole structure collapses. And so, it goes without saying that being weak in one of the area above, significantly lessens our tactical abilities. Let us examine each one of these legs in detail.

    1. Pattern Recognition - This is defined easily enough. A corridor mate, a pawn fork, all the tactical tricks in the book. All of them, no matter how difficult a combination, resolves into distinct simple patterns. The way geometry formulas resolves into simple additions. In an alternative way, we can think of them as tactical ideas. And these patterns, these ideas are what makes combinations works

    "At the heart of every combination there shines an idea, and though combinations are without number, the number of ideas is limited"

    These patterns must be memorized to reach mastery. We must know it the way we know our name. But the question that should now cross our minds is - when we see a pattern, is it really wise to iniatite a combination based sorely on it? For example, when an opponent makes a move and we instantly recognize that he placed his piece in a forking square, do we launch the fork? If it was a patzer, perhaps we would. But I have learned, and much to my sorrow, that most of the time I should not. Particularly, when a computer makes such a move, it usually is a deep trap.
    There simply is no way to tell without looking deep enough to know. We have to always look, always verify things. Our opponent is no fool. He must have known that is a forking square. Or did he? how can we be sure? And so this brings us to -

    2. Calculation - This is the second component of tactical mastery. The great safety net. This tells us if a move was a trap or a simple blunder. And because initiating combinations and sacrifices always entails risks. Good calculating techniques are needed to mollify it somewhat. I mean, there is really no risks if all possible replies of the opponent was worked-out beforehand. Then we say, ah! the combination was sound. A queen was sacrificed true, but only temporarily as can be seen in the variation Bxe5, fxe5, etc. etc..

    But calculating very deep combinations requires that we see the position clearly in our head. A small mistake could nullify a perfectly good variation

    3. Visualization - This brings us to the third component of tactical mastery. Having perfect sight of future eventualities in the board allows us to trust our calculation. If calculation is the safety net of pattern recognition, visualisation is the safety net of calculation. The limiting factor on how far we can calculate effectively. Because when we say we can calculate up to ten moves, what we really mean is that after ten moves, the position is still solid enough in our head to understand it. If the image becomes fuzzy, calculating any further is useless.

    Having very great strenght on all three is the pre-requisite to becoming a deadly tactical chess master. Most class player would probably say "I am already very good at tactics". And they are partly right since they have tons of memorized patterns already stored. Only partly because most class players are like that (me included). Very strong in patterns, but not enough calculation and visualization. I say not enough because the more important question is not if we saw a tactic but, when did you see the tactic? If you saw it when it is already at the board. Good for you. But that is not the deadly tactical chess master. Thats just doing what every Tom, Dick, and Harry does. And so we are not interested in it. When we start to see the tactics, a couple of moves before it is there, then I think that is the start of tactical mastery. That is what we are interested in. A tactical master sees tactics before the opponents do. He reads the position with his eyes closed. And after the combination is consummated, he tells them in his mind:

    "Young fool. Only now you see. Only now you understand. You have paid the price for your lack of vision!"
    posted by Nezha at 9:17 PM | Permalink | 3 comments
    Wednesday, March 16, 2005
    What Chess Needs
    I have another idea!

    You know what chess needs to garner mass market appeal? To make it hip among the youngsters? You know what? Chess cards! yeah, chess cards! Most other major sports have it. Basketball has it, baseball has it. Heck, even comic superheroes has it. So why not us? I mean the economic potential for this is enormous. Its brilliant I tell you, brilliant. Come on, look at this sample card:

    Mr. Chessplayer ELO 2000
    Tactics *****
    Calculation *****
    Positional Play *
    Strategy **
    Openings *
    Endings *

    5 stars - Super Grandmaster
    1 Star - Little Weiner

    Kids just love this stuff. I was crazy for them when I was one. Used to have a collection of hundreds. I tell you, it would be like giving candy to a baby. We could hook them while young. And to dramatize, on the backface of the cards, we can put all kinds of statistics, drawing percentages, winning ave. etc. etc. You name it, we should have it. Then for kickers, we would put little text descriptions for each player. It should look like this:

    Gary "The Boss Man" Kasparov - "I'm on top of the world! Whoohoo!"
    Vishy "The Indian" Anand - "I'm near the top of the world! Whoohoo!"
    Vladimir "The Painter" Kramnik - "I'm so tired! Do you want a draw with that?"
    Peter "Another Painter?" Leko - "Hmm, thats the last book move - Do you want a draw with that?"
    Robert "The Champion" Fisher - "I want my eggs"
    Alex "The weird one" Morozevich - "I have a pretty girlfriend"*

    If we could pull it off, this could be the best thing to happen to chess since the invention of castling. And, since we already own the rights to one of the best books out there on the market, we could even do some cross-marketing:

    "Buy - The Secret of Chess Improvement:
    A Scientific Approach to gain 400 points in 400 days
    By GM Nikolai Tsikivlisht and Dr. Marc Groening P.H.D.
    And get a chance to win the super rare collectors item
    Kasparov card. Here's youre chance now. Hurry!"

    Quick, quick - somebody get me a patent before someone else rips this idea off! This little cards can make all of us rich. Rich!
    $Ka-ching$ ooohhh, I could almost see those little green umbrellas! =>
    Progress Report

    All right, I surrender. I am not gonna spend thirty minutes on a problem again.
    I am just gonna memorize the solution so "I dont have to deal with it". See,
    HTML templates are not the only ones I can copy. =>
    I am at problem 579, 27 more problems to go before I finish this chapter.

    *Yes, I am attracted to Moro's girlfriend. And thats all I'm gonna say to that!
    posted by Nezha at 6:06 PM | Permalink | 4 comments
    Specialist or General Practitioner
    Chess is a game of sacrifice and in each game you MUST sacrifice a piece or pawn. - Alexander Tolush

    If you were given a choice, which would you rather be? Someone who is good at most things, but is not spectacular in anything? or someone who has very great strenght in one area and relative weakness in others? To be capable at everything or to be a master of something?

    The answer to this question is particularly important to my chess development. I have said the I wanted to study endgames too, yes? But perhaps, excepting for the most elementary endings, I will not. Perhaps, I will continue learning tactics. Perhaps I want to be so good at tactics that I could become the grand high mystic ruler of it. Perhaps, or perhaps not?

    Positional play, opening preparation, strategy, endgame - all of these things are important, and to deny their power is foolish. Ahh, but unwise too is he that denies the power of combinational mastery.

    To say that to concentrate on this one thing to the detriment of the others has its drawbacks would be an understatement. I have not heard of any sane grandmaster that recommends such a course. I would not like to say -"Was ein fehler! what a mistake!". But the important question for me now is, If I make this sacrifice, would I have enough compensation?

    Choices, very hard choices..

    Two roads diverged in a wood and I,
    I'm sorry I could not travel both,
    and be one traveller long I stood
    to where it bent on the undergrowth..
    I took the road less travelled by,
    and that has made the difference.
    posted by Nezha at 2:42 AM | Permalink | 2 comments
    Tuesday, March 15, 2005
    Ok, I am starting to not enjoy this exercises. I am averaging only two problems per day. Pawn structures are not the only ones being anihillated right now. My confidence is shot to pieces. Very rarely do I get the whole sequence correct. Sometimes I would get two, maybe three moves if I'm lucky. But I have not once gotten the whole variation. We can say that getting the first three moves is a good thing. And if this were CTART, I may get a few points for that. But sacrificing material forces you to be very accurate. If mate, or huge material compensation was not achieved quickly, you die. So in a real game, I am never going to have the confidence to initiate such long forcing manuevers without seeing up to mate. And I am blind. I tell you, blind!!!

    Which brings me:
    Maybe I should just try to solve within ten minutes and then go look at the solution? But I am using the tactical exercises to train my thinking process too. I mean, in a real game, there is no solution page to turn to. And so I try to work out all the variations as if I'm in a game. It's just is taking too much time.
    posted by Nezha at 6:15 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
    Sunday, March 13, 2005
    Maxim Blokh's Revenge
    When I started the circles program, from about a hundred exercises or so, I was constantly feeling this nagging pressure in my head. But after the first hundred, it disappeared. I even begun solving the problems faster than before. I used to finish about 20-30 a day. I remember thinking - "This is becoming too easy. At this rate I'll finish the whole book in another month. Arent there any harder problems? Maybe I'm just a tactical wizard now? Heh!". And so it went day after day. This blitzing thru the program. I was even dreaming that maybe I can have a life again. And why would anyone be frustrated by such simple problems?

    Until I came to the tactical theme - "Anihillation of Pawn Strukture"
    Piece of cake, seems to have more problems than the other chapters, but no matter I'll finish this in a week just like the others. The first few problems seems easy enough. I'll just solve this last one before I sleep. Hmm, seems to be a small trap here. eh!? What that!? This doesnt makes sense. The king is always slipping away. My ten minutes is up. I'll just see the soluti... A FIFTEEN MOVE COMBINATION? (Eyes popping out)

    Boy, was I wrong. This chapter has got to be the hardest so far. Full of 7-15 move combinations. Each one have multiple variations. Going thru the problem is a tough slog. And do you know, its baaacckk! The head-pressure. I want to scratch my brain so it would stop. My fingernails tearing thru the skin of my forehead. Trying to solve three or four of this things is hurting me (whimper2x). Last saturday, I thought that I can catch up as I managed to solve only about 15 problems the whole week. After a few hours, I got very tired. I've never been tired like this from solving problems before. Even passed out to sleep in the middle of the exercises three times. But still I go back. I wanted to finish this until sunday. But it is so very very tiring.. zzzz...

    I sure hope that this constant pressure in my head is actually good. I mean I hope it is neurons connecting and not dying. Can brain cells beg for mercy? Somewhere Mr Blokh must be secretly smiling. He is probably thinking right now - "They think it is becoming too easy. They'll even try to finish the whole book in two months. They will say - arent there any harder problems? Maybe even think that they are tactical wizards? heh!".
    posted by Nezha at 7:16 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
    Thursday, March 10, 2005
    The Great Chess Barrier.
    The Missing Component
    A hyphothesis on the difference between grandmasters and an ordinary player

    There are certain things in life you dont mess around with. For example, my work is important to me, so while I sometimes disagree with the boss, I never, ever, disagree with the CEO. I simply have no desire to have career suicide. After all I've got a family to feed. Another small example is I drive in the intercity highway a little more carefully. This is because I know that vehicular accidents at over 100kph is fatal.

    On the other hand there are things that we take for granted. Even indulgent to a degree. So while I know I really need to exercise before I have heart attack, I really dont have the motivation to do it in a regular manner.

    In a way, this two levels of thinking may determine how far we can go in developing our chess talent.

    You know, I study assidously everyday. Usually two hours, more during weekends. I've stopped watching TV, playing robotic computer games and going out. To a non-chess player, this may seems a little excessive, but I assure you - this is the norm among us who have the flu. But after all of that, in the end, I view chess as little more than a game. A hobby, to say it plainly. Something important, but not vital. That is to say, when I play a game, it is to have fun. Of course I make an effort to find the best move, but not nearly the whole game. I dont need to. So I dont. Because I know if I loose, there is always another day. I can just dismiss it with a shrug. If I even had a good game, I really woudnt mind.

    But for a professional chessplayer, someone whose livelihood depends on having a good tournament, this attitude is unacceptable. Chess is not done for fun. It is something not messed around with. If you know your little boy will go hungry if you lose, woud'nt you be a little more careful? No, there is no tomorrow for peole like them. Each game they play is maybe a world onto itself. The situation practically forces such a thing. Forces them to be more careful, to be more precise, to be more of everything when playing. Because for people like them, chess is not play. No, not play, but work. A struggle for living itself. The most ardent student of the game Mr. Alekhine said so himself - "I dont play so much as struggle".

    And so this brings us to what I think is a very real barrier that prevents someone like me from mastery. Different pressures produces different results. And the very pressures of my life prevents me from ever being a master. We may even say that learning chess is a way of rebellion against these pressures. But no matter how violently I rebel, It is inexorably leading me along a different path. Because don't you see? playing a game, there is always the safety net of tomorrow. Win or lose, it doesnt really matter. I may have a broken ego perhaps, but no fundamental damage occurs. I just do this for enjoyment. For fun. I have the luxury of not working as hard. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), I have a life outside of chess, and playing over the board, this life reflects itself on my moves. Whereas every move a GM makes may be for his family, for his sons and daughters. So he agonizes over each one of them. Each move is carefully deliberated and weighted before played. There is no fun involved here. No dogs, no friskbees. Only a grim, bitter struggle. The son is waiting for that new toy, which can be bought if only he can win the tournament. And so this opponent is only gonna win over his dead body.

    You know, in the final analysis, the game is a reflection of the player. And so while it is entirely possible that someday my chess knowledge may equal a grandmaster. In its practice, its application, it will never be.

    I hope I am making sense here. And perhaps I am wrong. This is only a hypothesis right now. But apart from talent and work there must be something different that enables a person to become a grandmaster. There must be something - Is there?
    posted by Nezha at 9:01 PM | Permalink | 2 comments
    Wednesday, March 09, 2005
    Development of a chess patzer
    I played two OTB games last night. The score was 1-1, but in both cases, I should have won comfortably. I was up a queen in one game for crying out loud. My inability to crush my opponent lead me to analyze my current state of chess developement. Which I will now share with my readers (right!), by creating this long rambling post detailing my development as chess patzer.

    1. The fog of war
    Ahh, My very first chess games.. During this time I have a totally myopic view of the board. The only thing that I see is the enemy king, and the piece I am using (usually the queen) to attack it at the moment. Its like there is this fog over the board. Paying absolutely no attention to my opponents moves, I only see the board one sector at a time. My games usually ends with my opponent gently nudging me to say mate. I would react in complete surprise and woudnt even know how that happened. Of course I never even saw what he was doing. I am too busy attacking the king with my queen.

    Mr. Heisman calls this flipcoin chess. This lasted for a few months. After never even winning one single game, I started to get angry and decided to do something about it. This led us to the next phase

    2. The Positional Maestro (The age of blunders)
    I started to do speed book collecting. Mostly about positional play. The very first book that I've read - Capa's "Chess fundamental" was allegedly for a beginner. Did I just miss something? because it was totally over my head. At that time of course I didnt think so, I actually thought it was too basic. Reviewing the pages now displays how stupid I was. So I have to forget being the next petrosian then?

    It was at this time that I read a book of Max Euwe that will alter my thinking. The book "Judgement and Planning in chess" would teach me positional concepts. Sure I've read capa's book and Mr. Weeranmantry's "Best lesson of a chess coach". But something about Mr. Euwe is different. My play started to have plan. Attack on the enemy king lessens in significance. I started to pay attention a little to my opponents moves. Not that I did anything about it because I was still all about my own plans. I have no defensive awareness. Prophylaxis? What is that? Isnt that what dentist's do? Hakt Ptew!

    This is also the age of blunders. Sure I have a plan, I even succeed once in a while, but most of my games is decided by a blunder. I often place my piece to where it can be taken.

    After studying so hard everyday, I started to win. But I was not satisfied. Surely I should be able to crush my opponents right now. Look at them, how ugly their moves are. They have no plans, just mindless wood shifting. And did he move his queen too early, Hah! surely I would win for I have a plan..

    But the blunders, ohh the blunders..

    After many-many books, the situation has not improved. I feel stronger than before, sure, but I was not winning more. This positional thing has taken me as far as it can. Try to do something different.

    3. The Opening theoretician
    At this time I would have given a anything to stop blundering. I know, I'll choose an opening system and memorize all the variations. After all, if Id already memorized the moves how was I going to blunder?

    I choose the open defense to the ruy lopez. Tarrach said it was the "only" correct defense to the ruy. So I played thru games after games of grandmasters. Memorizing variations, etc.. etc.. Problem is, I couldnt really memorize enough. OTB, I forget the lines, or my opponent goes out of book early.

    After 50 games without noticing anything significant, I decided to drop this also. My head is getting too full of variations. Memorizing such things makes me loose my appetite for chess. At this stage, I only see one variation per move. Generating the variation tree is beyond me. Again, this isnt working, time to try something else.

    3. Mr. Blindfold Player
    I am now resigned to the fact that I am doomed to blunder. Forget about it, GM's also blunder, why not me? I rationalized.

    So I disengaged from trying to eradicate blunder, and turned my attention to one of my other weakness - board vision. The fog of war has lifted somewhat. But not yet to my satisfaction. Ok, so I'm gonna increase it, but how to do it? Well since I've done so much memorization already, memorizing again doesnt seem too much. I'll just memorize the board. And then play games thru my head.

    I have another reason for learning this. People at work is starting to notice that I am occupied with chess. Hey, dont look at me like that. I am not the first person to neglect his professional duties for the darned game. Anyway, learning blindfold chess is perfect. Now, who woud've thought that I am staring at program codes - all the while thinking about chess? Hehe.. Sorry, I know this is wrong but cant help it. This has become a disease really =<

    But I also didnt see any significant improvement in chess strenght. Something is missing. But I actually think blindfold chess is cool, so I wont drop it.

    4. Back to fundamentals
    So I've tried everything. How about tactics? We'll Ive already gone thru 303 chess puzzles and some other puzzles here and there. So I didnt really think doing 1000+ is necessary. Let alone memorizing something again. But of course seeing games of Mr. Nezh changed my mind (See previous posts). I need to be a master of tactics if I am to play like him. No, not a master, more than that. I should be so lucky.. But If I'm gonna have a goal, why not something high? Mr. Wonderful, grand high mystic ruler of tactics sound good doesnt it? Me and my delusions =>. I hope my readers doenst take too unkindly to this. After all we all need our fantasies.

    So here I am now I'm at 500+. I hope to complete the training by March. Although I havent yet set any date like MDLM and the others have done. Something to do about goals not deadlines. Anyway, playing two games last night highligted some my remaining weaknesses which have to be tackled if I am gonna go play to the level that I want

    1. Calculation - This is a direct result of the tactics training. Now, I rarely feel the head-pressure that I talked about. I seem to see the board better too. Of course this may have something to do also with blindfold chess?

    2. Tactics - I see more tactics than ever before. This enables me to recover from inferior positions. During the positional era, One misstep and the game is over. I also see more variations per move than before. From time to time I am starting to find escape moves. I even defeated the 8-year old Josh Waitzkin personality in CM10. He may be just 1600, but boy, did he cause me grief. So take that little bugger. Hah!

    1. Calculation - No this is not a typo. This is a strenght - when I use it. But I dont nearly use it often enough. I should be able to out-calculate my opponents by now, If only I'd do it every move. I must learn to calculate, calculate, calculate.. Laziness have something to do about it.

    2. Prophylaxis - I think I must start acquiring this habit. I noticed that the emphasis of my move selection is all about attack. But I won 2nd game last night when at a critical moment, I suppressed this instinct and played a prophylactic move. This is a very hard thing to do. All my senses are urging me to go forward. I have a hard time thinking this way. Attack is fun, Playing prophylactic moves seems to be boring. But I may have to acquire this to win. "Adventure - a jedi cares not about this things".

    3. Emotion - I lost the first game because at the cusp of winning, My emotions got the best of me. Partly I got impatient. But mostly my emotions overruled my sense. My heart is beating too fast that I lost all objectivity and rushed my reply. One more prophylactic move (Here it is again, this word) and everything would have been over.

    Right now, blunders still bothers me. But if I let it bother me too much, I'd end up going batty. I'll just concentrate on working on my prophylactic play from now on to distract my mind. Who knows, I may even end up minimizing blunders? Ahh, if only it were that easy to break habits. Who will win between my habits and I?

    "We will engage in battle, and then we will see - Napoleon"
    posted by Nezha at 11:07 PM | Permalink | 2 comments
    Tuesday, March 08, 2005
    Two problems
    Last night I dedicated two hours for tactical problem solving. Since I didnt do any the other day, I thought I'd catch up. I'll just memorize the 13 move solution problem and go to the next one (see last post). So, when the time came, I happilly opened my tactics book and settled down to solve problems. Only to stare at a totally tactically devoid looking position. I dont get it, there doesnt seem to be a tactic here? But of course there is, this is a tactics book. So I fussed around trying to solve it, and trying to solve it, and trying to solve it.. Only to give up 20 minutes later. Turning to the solutions page. I saw - a fifteen move combination.. Yep, heard it right, fifteen, 1 and 5. Talk about having a long night.

    Who can solve these things?

    My eyes nearly popped out from their sockets seeing such long variations, excuse me - did I mention variations? That the solution has three variations? By the time I finished walking thru the solution in my head, I have taken up more than one hour of my time.

    So I still have one hour right. Maybe the other problems are a little easier. So I turned to solve the next problem. This one seems to be more promising. Lots of pieces. An insecure enemy king.. Only, the enemy king seems to slip-out at the last possible moment. This time, being pissed off by the last problem, I turned to the solutions page after only 10 minutes.. And I saw - A ten move combination!? Again, who can solve these things? Boy, this Maxim Block has one wicked sense of humor.

    So after two hours, I can now proudly exclaim that I've solved a total of two(2) problems. *sigh* I hope the remaining problems are easier. Because if all of them are like this, I'll be able to finish my training by next year..

    You know the disadvantage with a book is that since it is grouped by tactical themes, the level of difficulty is not indicated. A two move problem can be followed by a fifteen mover as what happened to me. This can seriously whack expectations.

    But what to do, I'm already at my 518th problem. I cannot stop this now. I really want to graduate from the DLM program soon. I am really envious of MDLM (In a good way of course).
    posted by Nezha at 9:57 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
    Monday, March 07, 2005
    The game that changed me
    This is the very first game of Nezhmetdinov that I saw. A game that made a deep impression on me.

    [White "Kosolapov N"]
    [Black "Nezhmetdinov R"]
    [Result "0-1"]

    1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.d3 d5
    5.exd5 Nxd5 6.Be2 Bb4 7.Bd2 O-O 8.Ne4 Be7
    9.O-O f5 10.Ng3 g5 11.Ne1 Nf4 12.f3 Bc5+
    13.Kh1 Rf6 14.c3 Be6 15.Nc2 Rh6 16.Be3 g4
    17.Bxc5 Qh4 18.Bg1 Qxg3 19.Ne1 Bd5 20.b4 Nh5
    21.Bf2 Qf4 22.fxg4 Qxh2+ 23.Kxh2 Ng3 24.Kxg3 f4 0-1

    The style of play illustrated by this game was so alien to my positional sensibilities that it left me gasping. I dont think that until mate Mr. Kosalopov here knew what was going on. Otherwise, why play on? why not resign if the mate was foreseen? Until that pawn was moved to f4, hope was even entertained maybe. Why not? he was up a queen. Or maybe he's in shock? Just like I was. I was so used to seeing games in which the players goal was some positional advantage, the 7th rank, open files, etc.. that seeing chess like this was deeply unsettling. I mean, you know, the games between us patzers is like this - always hunting for the scalp of the enemy king. But to see it from a master? Being presented with games after games of grandmasters, I thought that maybe for the higher levels of chess, patzer-like king attacks are not done anymore.

    Until I saw this game, until I knew about Mr. Nezhmetdinov. I've seen sacrificial attacks before. But not like him, no, never like him. The sheer aggression of the moves, the brutality - I could almost see (excuse the language, but I cannot think of no other) a primeveal shouting in triump over the body of a rival. His hands holding a bloody club. The rival, face down and bleeding. Raargh! He shouts.. Raaaarrrggghhh!!! I tell you, this player does not invoke images of a "sensitive artists and subtle instruments of immeasurable profundity"

    I mentioned before that I play blindfold chess. To be precise, I dont actually play blindfold OTB, but I play thru entire games in my head. Mr. Nezh's always cause me headaches. Often, I would think that I made a mistake in visualization. "Did he really move that? But the rook is hanging!", or "A sacrifice? Here? But the enemy defenses are concentrated right now, this can't be right" Only to find out later on that indeed what I saw was true. Only to find out that indeed mate was delivered seven moves later. His are the games I was referring to when I said that GM games dont seem to follow the rules. In them you will see badly wrecked pawn structures, mysterious queen moves, time seems more important than material. After a few of his games I came to expect that he would hang something. Time and again, an opponent would threaten a piece, and he would just ignore it. It always seems a mistake, yes it is a very costly mistake - for the opponent. Time and again he would demonstrate this. I would watch in horrified fascination as the opponent "wins" material. Only, the material will cost a tempo. And next thing you know, a queen was sacrificed and the king mated. Just like that.

    Playing over his games, One cannot help but notice that in his combinations he seems to have worked out all the moves before. That it was all part of some grand combinational plan. One does not get the sense that they are ordinary. No, not an ordinary three move cheapshot. The tactics of a pretender. No, His is the single note hanging above,unwavering.

    "As so often in open games, winning material is a mistake" - Rashid Nezhmetdinov

    I wish I could play like him. If I could succesfully devise and plan a very deep combination just once in my life, My chess career would be complete.

    I am faltering on the circles. The other day, while checking the solution, I inadvertently saw the next problem's answer. A thirteen move combination? I cant possibly solve that monster. Ive not done the exercises yesterday because of it. Maybe I'll just skip that problem and go on.
    posted by Nezha at 11:49 PM | Permalink | 1 comments
    The Road to Perdition
    Or: "An advice of the present me to the me two years ago"

    I've mentioned that I studied positional play from books for about two years. Most of the books i've read quickly become a manual of positional "rules". I could remember it like yesterday, "you must not take the knight because the center will become weak", "you should place the knights here because it attacks five squares", Don't do this.. do that.. blah3x..

    The effect of all these rules was a gradual descent into mechanical thinking until I lost all creativity. Original thought having been replaced with a rigid approach. But then playing thru master games, I noticed something - Do you know that the games dont seem to follow the rules? At least not the rules as taught by those darn books.I mean imagine this, Here I am ignoring my kids ("No son we cant' play, I'm busy with chess") so I can learn something that no-one uses? At least no chess player of significant strenght do. So why do these very same masters write all those rules? Please, can somebody tell me why? Please?!

    "We'll I dont really follows positional rules, In fact I dont know any master that follows them either. Even an expert don't use this stuff. But since your a beginner, here is a set of 100 positional rules to memorize. It will help you get better, promise. Did I fail to mention that I dont use them myself?" Eeeaargghhh!!! Rant! Rant! Rant! I am getting angry just thinking about the 2 years I've wasted. You say that for beginners it is necessary that rules be taught - I say that you sir, are insulting my intelligence. Do you know that telling me to use something that no self-respecting master uses, is maybe the single most harmful thing that hindered my development!?

    Consider the Josh Waitzkin tutorials in Chessmater. In them he takes the reader thru what goes on in his minds while playing a chess game. Particularly instructive is the way he chooses a move. It goes something like this.

    1. Bg5 - We could try this but it doesnt work because of Nxg5, hxg5, Qd2+, etc..
    2. Bc7 - This one is good because of Nf3, Qd2+, Kh1, etc.. etc.. but leads to a complicated position
    3. Re1 - Bad because after the pin Bc2, a6, Qe5, Nf7
    4. h3 - So all the moves above doesnt work. Lets play this and see what he
    does next.

    See, he doesnt talk abour rules. knight on the rim is dim, etc. He always talks about variations, ideas, plans.. on and on he goes, explaining the things he saw and the variations he considered. This is what real chess is like. And these things, (particularly the calculation of variations) are the one that should be studied if somebody wants to improve.

    I'd trade all the positional rules I've memorized for seeing just one more move deeper. No scratch that, I'll just give those lousy rules away to anyone who will take them. Rules, rules.. Bah, Humbug!!!

    The role of Tactics in positional play!

    You know, the telling thing with Mr. Waitzkin is that you get the feeling that he is one of those "positional player". He never talks about wild sacrificial attacks. He's always talking about slowly improving the position and "letting the game grow
    organically and let the win come naturally". But as can be seen from the example above he never makes moves out of just positional considerations. Sure he has a strong bent to play positional moves, but he never made one without checking first for tactics. Never. - listen to the man himself

    "You see, all the quiet moves have very long tactical justifications".

    There can not be a stronger indictment than that. This is maybe what CelticDeath means when he said that all moves should be based on tactics. What did you say? Some positions require a quiet move? a positional move? Didnt you just heard what Mr. Waitzkin said? Werent you listening? Where is your sense man! Fact is, at any given point in the game - how did you know there was no tactics there? C'mon now be honest. Answer me like I'm a two year-old. How did you know that there was no tactics in the position? Because everything looks calm? Because all the pieces are protected? Nothing is hanging? All the pawns are intact? Is that how you knew? Lets quote from Mr. Waitzkin one more time:

    "To an outsider the position seems calm, but a srong player knows that everything can erupt in chaos any moment... A strong player senses the underlying tension of the game. The stronger you get, the more tension you sense"

    Ohhh, bet that hurts, and do you want fries with that? Admit it already, by just thinking of strategy you dont really know if a position contains tactics or not do you. In fact you'll never know, not unless you specifically look for it like Mr. Waitzkin is doing. Of course you'll never be able to see tactics until you've master tactics. I've seen enough GM games to think that maybe most of the time, the moves they make have devious tactical shots buried somewhere five moves deep.

    So drop those books and start the delamaza program already.

    But - dont despair, should you choose to hinder a persons chess development, a rival perhaps? I know of a way to inflict this particularly painful thing on somebody. It is very easy, just give him your books on positional play, and tell him that tactics is not everything..
    posted by Nezha at 1:01 AM | Permalink | 4 comments
    Thursday, March 03, 2005
    Weekend Blog
    One of the reasons why I lose games is the lack of calculation. Not only do I forget to do it, worse sometimes I didn't want to do it. Its really stupid because I'm supposed to look at my move and my opponents move, but want to know why I dont? Its because calculating variations is very tiring, thats why. Many times I'll look into a position and just know that I'd better think things thru, but if I'd start to attempt thinking of variations, I'll feel this pressure in my brain. It gradually increases and more often than not, I'd say Ah, just wing it.. and play the first move that comes to mind. I am not an expert, but experiencing this made me think that endurance and stamina seems to play a role on chess strenght. So my first sentence above could be restated as "One of the reasons why I lose games is that lack of calculating stamina"

    "I impose highly complicated games on them, and by the fifth hour, they begin to break down" - Viktor Korchnoi

    Of course now, it seems hard to believe that I think little of calculating moves 5moves deep. It even feels normal. Although I haven't found out yet just how deep I can do it accurately, and for how long, but there was time, and not so long ago that my head hurts just trying to see two moves deep.

    But since starting the program, I havent had much time playing OTB. This cannot be helped and did not Botvinik himself state that playing too often is not necessary? But for my case, there is a slight psychological effect. Its just a teeny-weenie-entsy-bitty thing. Its ah, I mean I'm uh.. a little afraid to play and try out my new found skills. It's ridiculous, I'm turning chicken? Darn coward! I mean, logically my confidence should be at an all time high now right? But what if.. what if.. I played OTB and was defeated. I woudnt be able to resist thinking that all that hard work was a colossal waste of time. The experiences of the fellow knights in their own OTB play gives cause for optimism, but sibilant whispers echoes in my brain. "Defeat" it says "defeat". Arrrgggghhhh!!

    On a lighter note: See an annotation of Nimzo's most famous game - "The Immortal Overprotection" . Now this is how a game is annotated!

    Its already friday here so I'll not be able to blog this weekend. But happy weekend everybody.

    To Logis: I'll add your link one of this days.
    posted by Nezha at 5:42 PM | Permalink | 4 comments
    Two Ideas
    Some Crazy Ideas I've been thinking this morning

    1. Tournament - Of course I dont think this will happen, but woudn't it be great if at the some point, we can setup a tournament for the knights? A double-round-robin, all-play-all tournament for the knights of dela maza? Sort of like the great St. Petersburg Tournament 1912.

    In karate kid2, before meeting with his old rival, Mr. Miyagi settled his estate.He knows that he could be defeated because "We had the same teacher". Isnt a tournament between knights the same. We have the same teacher. The same philosophy. Now all we need to do is find out who is first student Mr. Pattern among us.

    This will also answer a question of mine - Since a chess game is largely determined in part by pattern recognition, if two person having the same exact set of patterns play - what will happen? Ideally, if two knights trained from CTART, and memorized the patterns of the same problems - what will enable one of them to win against another? Or will it end in a draw. Of course perfect pattern match between two persons does not exists, but this is as close as it gets to having such a state.

    Then after the tournament, each players will annotate the game. I'd give a pretty penny to know my fellow knights thoughts during a game. Who knows, maybe Don will compile the annotations and create the great Knight DelaMaza Tournament 2005.

    Maybe the 2105 DLM students will read the tournament book and tell everybody all about us. =>

    2. Book - If I were a little less lazy, and if I have the credentials, I'd make a book out of us knights I mean, tell me this isn't a great environment for laboratory-like experimentation. We have here a group of people all working towards the same goal, using roughly the same training method. I can't think of a better environment in which to monitor a group of player's chess progress.

    First we'll group the subjects according to the training method used like so -
    Group 1: 7Circles: Don, Sancho, etc..
    Group 2: 10Cricles: PMD, GK, etc...

    Then carefully plot the development of the knights. A ton of graphs will be produced here. Using those graphs, We can at the end, determine who showed the most relative improvement. Logically those who showed the most improvement would have had used the most efficient traning method. All kinds of analysis can made here. The most stunning conclusions can be achieved. Also, most accepted chess-related topics can be objectively discussed. You name it, thought process's, pattern recognitions, calculating ability..

    Heck, we can even add interviews of the knights. Maybe even include a chapter on the knights being shown a position and explaining what they think of. Sort of like Mr. Groot experiment and Mr. Silmans "The Amateurs Mind". But with one big difference, the book can show the thought process of a player before and after the training.

    Interested already? C'mon now, you know you are...

    We can then pay a GM, and a some PHD guy with a foreign sounding name, and publish the book under them:

    "The Secret of Chess Improvement:
    A Scientific Approach to gain 400 points in 400 days
    By GM Nikolai Tsikivlisht and Dr. Marc Groening P.H.D."

    I could almost see now the praise being lavished -
  • "Wonderful, I can feel my rating increasing already",
  • "A book that history will not forget. Lots of thanks to Dr. Groening and GM
    Tsikivlisht for opening the doors of chess improvement".
  • "No other book before or since has so captivated me",
  • "Very hard to put down. Choke full of practical help",
  • "Now this is what I call real chess"

    We'll expect the usual unwashed critics of course -
  • "How can you repeat solving the same set of exercises over and over again?"
  • "Well, I want to have a life too"
    and my personnal favorite
  • "Tactics is not everything"

    But I mean, I'm serious. Who woudnt want to buy this book? For a book like this, we can charge $30 per copy. We can then watch the money come-in, retire in hawai, and spend the rest of the day sipping juice from glasses with little red cherries and green umbrellas.

    Ahhhh... yes..

    Status Report
    Chapter 9: Blockade - 3 Circles completed
    Chapter 10: Demolition of Pawn structure - Starting
    posted by Nezha at 12:05 AM | Permalink | 8 comments
    Wednesday, March 02, 2005
    For the Love of the Game
    Why do we do the things that we do

    Some people think that the knights are nuts for solving massive amounts of tactical problems. Some even say that the method we are using, i.e. 7circles are irrelevant and archaic. They would say something like: "How can you do repeat solving the same set of exercises over and over again", "Well I want to have a life too", and of course my personnal favorite "Tactics is not everything"

    I dont think someone who haven't gone thru the program will understand completely, But I will try to explain here my thoughts regarding this matter.

    1. It is highly addicting - You don't really think that we are able to solve tactical problems day-after-day due only to sheer self-disciple and will-power do you? I mean Margriet solves 200+ problem daily - is that really pure monumental dedication, or is there not a shade of addiction? You know, for me, At the start of the program I thought I'd quit halfway through. But as I went deeper and deeper into this thing, I am unable to stop. Of course I've gone a day here and there without solving problems, but I suspect that refraining from doing the exercises for three days will turn me into a quivering mass of jelly.

    2. It is deeply satisfying - There is nothing like working the solution to a deep combination, and then finding out that youve analyzed all the correct variations. It does not happen most of the time of course. But when it does, when you find out that, that seven-move combination goes exactly as you predicted, There is nothing quite like it. I could only compare this to when I finally nailed down the "B" chord
    in the guitar.

    3. Tactics is beautiful - I havent read any post from my fellow knights whether they find some tactical ideas beautiful. But particularly when I was just starting and not yet used to the different tactical ideas, I can still remember seeing a rook sacrifice designed to pin the enemy queen and king. Not really a special combination, except for the fact that mate is threatened by that same queen and that after the pin was achieved, mate follows no matter what the opponent moves next. I literary mumbled to myself - "Ohhh.. It's so beautiful, so beautiful".

    "OLD SALIERI: On the page it looked nothing. The beginning simple, almost
    comic -just a pulse, bassoons, basset horns, like a rusty squeezebox. And
    then, suddenly high above it, an oboe, a single note, hanging there
    unwavering, until a clarinet took it over and sweetened it into a phrase of
    such delight. This was no composition by a performing monkey! This was a
    music I’d never heard, filled with such longing, such unfulfillable
    longing. It seemed to me that I was hearing a voice of God"

    Also, I began to fully appreciate the power of the pin after this. Sure I've seen pins before, even used it myself sometimes but: There are pins and there are pins.

    Anyway -
    You know, it is a little too early for this for I am only at my 481st problem, but I am sometimes almost afraid to continue. Normally, the succesfull completion of a hard endeavor is cause for celebration, but for every problem that goes answered, for every step nearer to completion - It also becomes near, "Nearer the day of our parting"

    You see, after finishing the program, I may not be able to do it again. Despite the
    three reasons above, I think I may have to train in a different area to get some balance. I know, I know, I posted that I wanted to rely on combinations. But if nothing else, two years of studying positional chess has left its mark.

    After this, I am thinking of ordering the Convekta Strategy 2.0 CD and doing a 7 circles with it. Did one of the knights already ordered and found it quite useful? I would be grateful for further feedback. But all this talk of strategy. This should be for later. Right now, I just want to enjoy my tactics.

    We have so little time left together..
    posted by Nezha at 1:46 AM | Permalink | 3 comments